Friday, May 15, 2009

BC About the Author: Greg Mortenson and David Relin

Greg Mortenson grew up on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, from 1958 to 1973. His father established a teaching hospital, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, and his mother founded the International School Moshi.

Mortenson was a U.S. Army medic in Germany during the Cold War (1977-1979), where he received the Army Commendation Medal, and later graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1983, and pursued graduate studies in neurophysiology. His lifelong interest in mountaineering culminated in a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, the world’s second highest mountain, which changed his life.

Since 1993, Mortenson has dedicated his life as a humanitarian devoted to promote education, especially for girls, in remote, volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. As of 2007, Mortenson has established 58 +/-
schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide education to over 24,000 children, including 14,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.

In 1996, he survived an eight day armed kidnapping in the Northwest Frontier Province tribal areas of western Pakistan, escaped a 2003 firefight with feuding Afghan warlords by hiding for eight hours under putrid animal hides in a truck going to a leather-tanning factory. He has overcome two fatweh (a prohibition or decree, usually involving banishing someone or banning something) from Islamic mullahs (Muslim clergy), and also received hate mail and threats from his fellow Americans after 9/11, for helping Muslim children with education.

Mortenson is a living hero to rural communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he has gained the trust of Islamic leaders, military commanders, and tribal chiefs from his tireless effort to champion education, especially for girls.
He is one of few foreigners who has worked extensively for fourteen years in the region now considered the front lines of the war on terror. Mortenson has traveled to more than sixty countries in lifetime. His cross-cultural expertise has brought him to speak on Capital Hill, at National think tanks, the Pentagon, Dept. of Defense, U.S. State Dept., libraries, outdoor groups, universities, schools, churches, mosques, synagogues, business and civic groups, women's organizations and much more.

While not overseas half the year, Mortenson, 49, lives in Bozeman, Montana, with his wife, Dr. Tara Bishop, and two children. He is the founder of nonprofit Central Asia Institute, and his website can be found here. You can also visit a website specifically for the book here.


David Oliver Relin is a graduate of Vassar and was awarded the prestigious Teaching/Writing Fellowship at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. After Iowa, he received a Michener Fellowship to support his groundbreaking 1992 bicycle trip the length of Vietnam. He spent two additional years reporting about Vietnam opening to the world, while he was based in Hue, Vietnam's former imperial capital. In addition to Vietnam and Pakistan, he has traveled to, and/or reported from, much of East Asia.

For two decades, Relin has focused on reporting about social issues and their effect on children, both in the United States and around the world. He is currently a Contributing Editor for Parade. For his work as both an editor and investigative reporter, he has won dozens of national awards. His interviews with child soldiers (including a profile of teenager Ishmael Beah, who would later write the bestseller A Long Way Gone) have been included in Amnesty International reports. And his investigation into the way the INS abused children in its custody contributed to the reorganization of that agency.

Relin is currently at work on a secret book about food, a children's book with the artist Amy Ruppel, and a novel about Vietnam. He currently lives in Oregon.

No comments: